This prompt is a lot darker than the ones we’ve been looking at recently. The job here is to use the setting to establish a mood. The object is to use the same setting, but in one make it from the point of view of a character who just got a new job; the second time do it from the POV of a character who is contemplating suicide. (For that reason, please do not read if you feel the subject matter would be unpleasant.)

“Adams Street”

The Adams Street bridge clanked loudly as the drawbridge machinery locked it closed, the guard rails bouncing a little as the housing rattled. Jenny watched the mechanic working in the wheelhouse, far above the street, and wished that she might go up and see the bridge controls. She looked up at the tall white building across the river from her, the black bulk of the Sears Tower rising like Everest behind it. The black windows were a nice contrast to the argent walls of her new building, her office housed somewhere on the twentieth floor. She looked back at the wheelhouse impatiently, wishing the mechanic would hurry up.

Finally the security guard raised the gate blocking pedestrian traffic and Jenny started across the bridge in the midst of the flow of people. She was surprised, it was two in the afternoon and still the sidewalk was packed. Some were obviously tourists, backpacks and cameras in hand. Others were just as obviously on their way, like she was, to their offices; suits and fancy shoes making them seem glamorous. The bridge had little wells of metal, making holes like honeycomb filled in with concrete. Her pumps slipped a little on the surface and she wondered how treacherous it would be in the rain. She came to the middle of the bridge and watched the join between the two halves bouncing slightly as the traffic crossed. A large delivery truck lumbered by and the space gapped an inch or two and she suppressed a shiver. No one else noticed, so she gritted her teeth and stepped over it, catching a glimpse of the greenish water far below.

The second watchtower on this side of the street was lit by a bare bulb, no fixture covering it. She could just make out the shock of blonde hair belonging to the mechanic and wondered suddenly if he’d let her in if she knocked. She slipped on a bit of metal and caught herself against the hand rail. None of her fellow pedestrians spared her a glance and she walked on, a little offended.

A homeless man begged for money on the corner, his crutch tucked securely under his arm. His odor sprang out at her like a barking dog and she sidestepped slightly, wary of pickpocketing. She moved around him to the short set of stairs and came up to the revolving doors. She took a deep breath to center herself and pushed through, entering her new life.

Jenny emerged from Union Station, the grey overcast sky low ad close enough to touch. She stepped out from the overhanging roof and moved forward to the round planter box, maybe ten feet in diameter, and sank down on its far side, facing the river. Her feet ached. She slipped out of her shoes and rested her heels on top of them, keeping them off the concrete but letting the toes breathe.

The Adams Street bridge went across the river to her left, leading cars and pedestrians into the heart of Chicago’s Loop. Tommy had loved the Loop, with its business and restaurants and the museums on the far side. He’d been a member to the Art Institute. She couldn’t see it from where she sat, but knew it was at the end of Adams Street just before Millennium Park. She could walk there from here in about fifteen minutes, walk right up the wide shallow steps between the bronze lions, all the way in to Callebaut’s masterpiece. It was Tommy’s favorite. ‘Rainy Day, Paris Street.’

She looked away from the bridge and its wrought iron decoration to the green water below it. She could only see a narrow strip from where she sat but didn’t feel like walking over to the railing to see the whole of it. Little more than a canal here, bounded on both sides by concrete walls and manipulated at the end by locks, Tommy had loved the river. He’d loved the stench, the engineering feat that turned its direction backwards and made Chicago the enemy of St. Louis downriver. The Chicago River had been his favorite, and he’d ended his life in sight of it.

No one had found the body right away. He’d climbed down the embankment over by the Merchandize Mart, hidden from view by a few thin bushes. She could walk there, too, in about the same time it would take to walk to the Art Institute. She turned her head but the buildings and cars blocked her view of the Mart just as the trees and shrubs must have blocked his, as he slit his wrists at their feet.

She cleared her throat and looked back at the Adams Street drawbridge. Rust decorated its underbelly and she could make out the massive housing for the wheels that let the two halves raise, so ships could pass by. She stared at them until her eyes misted over with the need to blink, or with tears.

Two ducks floated by the housing, hunting for food.

One thought on “Mai Madness – New Job, Suicide

  1. Evey Brown says:

    Wow, that’s a tough one. Suicide and a job in the same place? You managed quite well though.
    Good tone, definitely made me feel that woman’s pain about the loss of her friend.
    Rainy day, Paris Street is a painting? I wondered what that meant on your email teaser. LOL

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